art empire: prolegomena to repressed sequels

In 1997, Douglas Gordon made a pirate recording of two hours of Andy Warhol’s Empire.  Gordon, “a noted sculptor of cinematic time,” wasn’t persecuted and imprisoned for copyright infringement.  Today, Gordon’s work, “Bootleg (Empire)” is on display in the Hirshhorn Museum’s exhibit Directions: Empire3.  Pirating a copyrighted work has thus helped to develop further an art empire.

Vigorous public debate about strict new copyright enforcement measures hasn’t sufficiently appreciated alternatives to punishing persons for copyright infringement. The Hirshhorn has a guard stationed near Gordon’s “Bootleg (Empire).”  The guard stops anyone who attempts to takes a photo of the television playing Gordon’s pirated video.  If you want to maintain a totalitarian empire, guards are more effective than copyright.

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